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    Category: Language & Words

    This category features customers whose mishandling of vocabulary and grammar are so bad that we literally have no words to describe them!

    Guaranteed To Shut Anyone Up

    | San Antonio, TX, USA | Bad Behavior, Language & Words, Top

    (I am an EFL teacher and self-published writer. I am an English major and in several classes focusing on the history and structure of the English language. I am paying my way by working at a call center. I get a caller who sounds reasonably educated.)

    Caller: “I want you to tell me if there is a guarantee on this product.”

    Me: “I know, sir, but to cont—”

    Caller: “Tell me about the guarantee before we get anywhere else.”

    Me: “I’ve given you the information on my sidebar, sir. To get further details I need to advance the screen so can you just give me your name—”

    Caller: “Just tell me about the guarantee! Guarantee: Latin for get your money back!”

    Me: “Latinate.”

    Caller: “Pardon me?”

    Me: “It’s Latinate, not Latin. We acquired it from the French. Probably Parisian French but I’m not sure in that. Warranty actually comes from the same word, but Norman French has the W sound and other types of French don’t usually. Probably because the Normans were a bunch of Norse Viking types the French gave some land to in order not to be pillaged. The Normans invaded and conquered England and tried to obliterate the English language but only managed to get a bunch of words added. When the English invaded and conquered France a couple of hundred years later, they got the Parisian version of the word with the GU sound. This is why warranty has a more official and stronger meaning than guarantee.”

    Caller: “Uh…”

    Me: “Now, I have a specific script the client requires us to read about the guarantee. It is important that I read precisely the words they chose without interpretation. To get to that script, I need to process the first screen as if I am taking an order. I am not allowed to read from memory. If you choose not to order, then I just cancel it out and there is no order placed. Can I get your information now, sir?”

    Caller: *much calmer* “All right…”

    One Word Republic

    | Bartlett, TN, USA | Bad Behavior, Language & Words, Musical Mayhem

    (I work at a well-known music store. A customer in his mid-40′s approaches my register.)

    Customer: “Hi, I’m looking for a CD for my daughter for her birthday by ‘One Republic’. I forgot which CD the song it is on. It goes like this: ‘it’s too late tapollagize, it’s too late’.”

    Me: “I think you mean ‘to apologize’, sir. But right over here, please follow me.”

    (I pick up the CD ‘Dreaming Out Loud’ and hand it to the man.)

    Customer: “No, no, no! This can’t be it.”

    Me: “I assure you this is the CD with the song ‘Apologize’ on it, sir.”

    Customer: “Are you stupid?! This can’t be it! ‘IT’S TOO LATE TAPOLLAGIZE!’”

    (I was eventually able to convince him he was wrong, but he still left the store without buying the CD.)

    They’re Talking Babel

    | Boston, MA, USA | Extra Stupid, Language & Words, Religion, Top

    (I am a customer in line behind one man and one woman. The employees at this shop all have fairly heavy accents, but speak perfectly understandable English. However, they do converse amongst themselves in Spanish.)

    Female Customer: *turns around* “What is the matter with these people? Why the h*** can’t they just speak English the way God intended?”

    (The other customer and I raise our eyebrows at each other.)

    Male Customer: “What makes you think God intended people to speak English?

    Female Customer: “Well, the Bible is in English, duh!”

    Taiwannical Behavior

    | Taiwan | Awesome Customers, Bigotry, Language & Words

    (I’m browsing in a bookstore in Taiwan, when I notice two Caucasian customers looking in the Young Teenage Girls section and laughing.)

    Customer: *to his friend, in English* “Watch this.”

    (He grabs a random book and hands it to an employee.)

    Employee: *in somewhat broken English* “Can… I… help you?”

    Customer: “Yes. I should like that you would exemplify the thesis behind the philosophies illustrated in this literature.”

    (I’m looking at them now, rolling my eyes, but the pair are having a good time of it and don’t notice me. The employee is very confused and mutters in English as best he can.)

    Employee: “Eh… uhh… sorry?”

    Man: *gesturing as he speaks* “You. Need to. Exemplify. The. Theories. Of the. Thesis. As manifest. In this literature.”

    (It’s obvious the customer has no idea what he himself is saying, and is just having a laugh at the employee’s expense. The other guy with him has a wide grin on his face like he’s thoroughly enjoying the exchange. I’ve had enough, so I go to the employee, take the book out of his hands, turn to the synopsis given on the back cover and turn to the two guys.)

    Me: *in perfect English* “A girl’s parents have just divorced and the father moves her to a new school. She’s having difficulty adjusting to a new environment and life as a young woman and the changes to her body as he matures. Because she’s new, she’s having a difficult time telling anyone about it and doesn’t know how to tell her father about the various changes she is experiencing with her body. She falls for a popular boy, but she’s new and awkward and nobody likes her. Eventually, she contemplates suicide.”

    (The two customers are staring at me like I’ve got ten heads. I decide to rub it in a little further.)

    Me: “What the h*** is this? You managed to find the girliest book in here!”

    Customer: *opens his mouth, as if to say something*

    Me: “Where’re you from?”

    Man: “Uh, uh, uh, uh… CANADA!”

    (Embarrassed, he and his friend dash out of the store.)

    Me: *to the employee in Mandarin* “They were just screwing with you. There’s only one thing you need to know in English if something like that ever happens again: you tell them:” *in English* “F*** off!”

    Wales Is A Country Too

    | San Antonio, TX, USA | Language & Words, Pets & Animals

    (The marine park where I work features a show starring beluga whales.)

    Guest: *runs up* “I need to find Belgium stadium!”

    Me: “I would be happy to help… what are you looking for again?”

    Guest: “BELGIUM STADIUM!”

    Me: “I’m sorry, we don’t have a Belgium stadium. Belgium is a country in Europe.”

    Guest: “But I need to find Belgium Stadium! The show is about to start!”

    Me: *dawns on me* “Oh, do you mean Beluga Stadium? Like the big white whales?”

    Guest: “What the heck is a beluga? I want to see Belgiums!”

    Me: *gives up* “Right this way, sir…”


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